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Global Wine Exports Rebound – Wine-Searcher

Ups and downs this week as the International Organisation for the Vine and Wine (OIV) announced a bonanza year for wine trade in 2021 while a judge in Italy froze three-quarters of a million euros in assets of a winery still trying to navigate its way out of the hangover of its fraud convictions in 2020.
More fraud and wine this weekend too as the French state puts another collection of top-tier Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne up for auction. The wines in question all seized as part of official investigations into criminal behavior.
Meanwhile, traditionalists are up in arms in Spain as health officials look to wipe out beer and wine from the lunch menu blackboards across the country, and there’s another dating app for wine. Read on.
As the world begins to emerge from what is hopefully the other side of the Covid-19 pandemic, wine exports have returned to boisterous levels, says the International Organisation for the Vine and Wine (OIV). According to the organization, global wine exports hit new highs last year, going up 16 percent in value (to €34.3 billion or $36.2 billion) and by four percent in volume to 111.6 million hectolitres (or 11.16 billion liters) – both records.
Spain led the way with exports with France and Italy taking second and third place respectively. The big three accounted for just 50 percent of global wine exports.
The US was the top importer by value with imports rising 21 percent – the lifting of Trump-era trade restrictions also played a significant role in the trade growth.
In volume terms, Germany takes the top spot while the US overtook the UK as the second-largest importer of wines. The latter’s exit from the European Union is reportedly to blame as, according to news wire Reuters, “Brexit contributed to a contraction in UK imports.”.
Global wine consumption grew by one percent, according to the Dijon-based organization.
However, all was not rosy. Supply chain issues, the availability of dry goods (the two are routinely linked) and the continuing conflict in Ukraine likely have the potential to put the breaks on growth in 2022.
Following a two-year investigation into major fraud at a winery in the Italian region of Oltrepò Pavese, the public prosecutor has frozen nearly €740,000 (US$780,000) worth of assets from the company as it struggles to get its finances in order. The move follows a spate of arrests and charges of wine fraud, label falsification and fraudulent documentation at the Cantina Canneto facility in Canneto, in the northern Italian province of Pavia.
According to reports, the company has been trying to return to normal operations after police (the Carabinieri and the Guardia di Finanza fraud police) descended on the winery two years ago in what was dubbed “Operation Dionysus”. Despite an operational title that clearly shows even the forces of law and order have a sense of humor, the cops arrested the MD (and president), the vice president, two winemakers, and a broker for the company.
The operation, its investigation and the arrests came after official controls in 2018 found 1.6 million liters of wine “missing” in cellars. It transpired the wine (let alone the grapes) had never existed.
The winery had falsely claimed the grape intake and production, intending to make up the shortfall with cheap bulk wine which would then be fraudulently labeled with the DOC or IGT geographical denominations, or even as Organic wine.
The winery was also making use of certain prohibited additions including rectified grape must and invert sugar syrup. Although the ingredients used did not pose a public health risk, their use was part of the fraud. 
According to some news reports, the investigation could even hit grapegrowers. “According to the prosecutor, the counterfeit could have occurred with the complicity of the grape suppliers – 28 are under investigation,” said local newspaper La Provincia Pavese.
If ever there was a move that took some pretty big “cojones”, Spain’s Ministry of Health tabling a proposal to outlaw alcohol from lunch menus across the country is right up there. The move comes as part of a wider health drive in the country to combat cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the country.
To this end, both alcohol and tobacco are facing more stringent regulations from the government. With Barcelona banning public smoking on its beaches, a countrywide ban on smoking in restaurant terraces – and even fines for smoking while driving – has also come into force.
According to reports, the health ministry is looking to cut the country’s tobacco consumption by 30 percent in the next three years.
Now the government is reviewing plans to ban beer, wine and/or spirits from the ubiquitous “menú del día” (the lunchtime menu of the day) across bars and restaurants in the country. According to Barcelona-based publication Equinox, the menu of the day “will have to offer free tap water as standard and may no longer include the consumption of alcohol.”
The potential ban is not total, however. “These drinks would be offered à la carte, therefore at a higher price,” added the news outlet.
Despite all of this, the bill remains controversial and its contributors are not holding their breath. “Although the Spanish Society of Cardiology is happy with the document […] it is also skeptical about the application of the measures therein,” said Spanish broadcaster Onda Cero.
A collection of 200 lots of prestigious wines seized by French tax officials in the course of their investigations are being put up for auction in Dijon this weekend. With impeccable reasoning worthy of the land that gave us Voltaire, Diderot and Spinoza, the French tax office said the auction “guarantees the efficiency of justice by combining dispossession of property resulting from offenses and preservation of their value”.
Among the 200 lots put up by French auction house Drouot on behalf of the French state are three bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche 2000,12 bottles of Château Angélus 2005, 12 bottles of Ausone 2001, six bottles of Cheval Blanc 1982, six bottles of Pétrus 2000 and two 12-bottle mixed cases of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2001.
The collection – 1400 bottles in all – goes under the hammer in Dijon, Saturday 30 April.
This is not the first time wines confiscated from crooks have been auctioned off by the state. As we reported late last year, a haul of goodies including a Ferrari, two Lamborghinis, a fistful of Rolexes and some fine wine (including more grand cru Bordeaux and Burgundy), this time seized from organized crime operations, went up for auction in October. Again, if only we knew a bit more about the provenance of the wines…
Another week and another wine matching app for your mobile phone that seeks to pair you with your ideal wine. This time its Vinidaily which, despite a name destined to fall foul of European Union safe drinking guidelines, is proposing to find your perfect wine match for a cassoulet – at least that’s what local news outlet Toulouse Secret highlighted (for the curious, the options are Gaillac, Minervois or Buzet).
While Vinidaily seems to have something of an unsurprising French bias when it comes to wine suggestions, it will allow you to see your friends’ wine preferences (if they are signed up too), potentially alleviating any stress when it comes to choosing a bottle for them.
Other than that it’s more of the same. Tell Vinidaily how you like your coffee (don’t drink coffee; with milk, with sugar, etc.) and it’ll use your answers to start to construct a profile of your palate.
But rest assured: if you don’t like a wine that the app suggests, it won’t suggest it again.
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